WATERLOO — Waterloo Columbus entered the 2019 high school football season with a simple motto — unfinished business.
Left out of the playoffs a year ago despite a 7-2 season, the Sailors made a strong opening statement Friday with a dominating performance over Iowa Falls-Alden, 35-6.
“We have used the fact of not going last year to motivate us all summer,” said senior Ben Sinnott. “It hurt because we thought we were going to the playoffs after our last game. Well, this year we have unfinished business to take care of.”
The Sailors wasted little time getting on the board as their first drive was a short 39-yard adventure due to Ray Seidel’s opening kick return of 59 yards.
The distance was covered quickly and ended with Sinnott hauling in an eight-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Carter Gallagher.
Columbus nursed that 7-0 lead into the second quarter when the Cadets put their best drive of the game.
Sinnott put a rest to their thoughts of tying the game as he picked off a pass one-handed and returned it 72 yards.
That changed the momentum over to the Sailors’ sideline for good.
“I saw the running back drop back and knew it was a pass,” said Sinnott. “I just reached up and grabbed it and turned to run toward the end zone. Last year I had a similar play and the guy caught me before I could score. I wasn’t going to let them catch me this time.”
“I’m telling you right now that Sinnott is the best player in the state,” Columbus coach Brad Schmit said. “Just watch the way he plays, he’s a stud. That interception changed the game for us.
“We wanted to come out like a young Mike Tyson and knock them out fast. We did that for the most part, but then we kind of stalled until Sinnott’s pick six. That gave us momentum and we just kept running power at them and hammered it home.”
The Sailors’ ground game was fueled by Ray Seidel, who got into the end zone from 13 yards out with just four ticks left on the first-half clock. Seidel finished the game with 106 yards on 13 tough carries.
“That was huge, because we thought we might be kicking a field goal,” said Schmit. “Instead, Ray showed his speed and power and got in. Our whole offensive line went out and did what they had to do.
“I thought Gallagher, as a sophomore, did well and he settled down in the second half. He gained some very valuable experience here tonight.”
Sinnott’s experience paid off two more times in the second half as he caught two more touchdown strikes from Gallagher, including a nice fade to the back of the end zone for Columbus’ last touchdown.
“I thought for our first game of the year, we were able to work some of the kinks out,” said Sinnott.
The Cadets scored as timed expired to prevent the shutout.
Columbus 35, Ia. Falls-Alden 6
Iowa Falls-Alden 0 0 0 6 — 6
Columbus 7 14 7 7 — 35
Col — Ben Sinnott 8 pass from Carter Gallagher (Ben Trost kick)
Col — Sinnott 72 interception return (Trost kick)
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Col — Ray Seidel 13 run (Trost kick)
Col — Sinnott 7 pass from Gallagher (Trost kick)
Col — Sinnott 29 pass from Gallagher (Trost kick)
IF-A — Kaden Eugenio 24 run (no PAT attempt)
First downs 14 13
Rushes-yards 39-140 23-185
Passing yards 47 70
Comp-att-int 4-13-1 7-11-1
Return yards 92 78
Punts-avg. 2-32.0 1-28.0
Fumbles 0-0 0-0
Penalties-yds 7-60 9-70
IOWA FALLS-ALDEN — Kyler Hadwiger 12-42, Karson Sharar14-54, Sam Off 5-minus 2, Kaden Eugenio 4-22, Kyle Meyer 4-24.
COLUMBUS — Ray Seidel 13-106, Kobe Nobis 2-5, Ben Sinnott 2-32, Joe Dunlay 5-31, Carter Gallagher 1-11.
IOWA FALLS-ALDEN — Off 4-10-0, 47 yards, Riley Burke 0-1-0, Blake Janssen 0-1-0.
COLUMBUS — Gallagher 7-11-3, 70 yards.
IOWA FALLS-ALDEN — Rafe Bessman 2-17, Sharar 1-18, Hadwiger 1-12.
COLUMBUS — Sinnott 6-66, Nobis 1-2, Seidel 1-2.